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  • Writer's picturegheverly

Execute Change Management Like a Pro

If you are in any sort of leadership role, managing change is one of the hardest things you have to deal with. It is important to keep in mind that if you aren't in a position of leadership change can be even harder. Your frontline staff unfortunately are usually the ones to hear about changes last, are given the least context, have little to no say in the decisions made, and yet are expected to be the ones to execute. This is because typically decision are made at the top and slowly cascaded through an organization.


Do your roll outs look like this?

Reasons for Lack of Engagement During Change

-- Mixed messages and lack of alignment from those rolling out the change
-- Your teams don’t understand the message or the context for change
-- Your teams don’t believe the message or don't accept it
-- Team believe the source of decision making is not credible
-- No incentive to change
-- No personal commitment to the change
-- Required giving up something that is valued
-- No role models

As a leader it is incumbent on you to make sure you have all of the information before making company-wide decisions and changes. This means talking to people at all levels of the organization and possibly even customers before implementing change. This means having empathy for how the change might affect the various stakeholders. And above all, it means managing the change well.


When making changes, one of the most important things to remember is that slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Too often I've seen clients move too quickly especially when they are reacting to some sort of stimulus. They then pat themselves on the back for making swift decisions. But when I dig in and try to understand if the change has been executed to expecatation throughout the organization the answer is no. Middle managers disagree with the changes or don't understand the reasoning and then can't properly create buy in with their direct reports. Front line staff blame leadership to customers when changes are not received well. And more.

ADKAR is the acronym to remember when instituting new policies, practices or rolling out other change in your organization.

AAwareness of business reasons for change

  • Why are we doing this?

DDesire to engage and participate in the change

  • What’s the motivation?

K Knowledge about how to change

  • What are they expected to do, or do differently?

A Ability to realize/ implement change at the required performance level

  • Do they have the necessary skills/tools/resources to do what is expected?

RReinforce to ensure change sticks

  • How to keep it going, prevent reversion or backsliding?

How to Implement ADKAR and Make Change Smooth

-- Meet 1:1 with people affected by change ahead of sharing in a group setting.
-- Think thru the ADKAR model for each situation and group and build a communication plan
-- Look for the benefits—help to identify “what’s in it for me” for those affected
-- Communicate early and often
-- Recognize that high-change periods may involve extra work, which can add to additional feelings of stress
-- Discuss the timetable for change; what will happen when
-- Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”
-- When you hear “resistant to change”—investigate further. Use as an opening for dialogue and learning.
-- Invite participation and input; be open to all perspectives.
-- Expect ambiguity and frustration, at least some of the time.
-- Encourage people to share their concerns and challenges.
-- Use “rumors” as indicators—what’s happening or not happening?
-- Review and/or celebrate successes
-- Be aware that you telegraph change as soon as you make a decision—people pick up on it. Be aware of everything you do and how it might be interpreted.
-- Increase confidence by identifying what is possible, rather than what is impossible.
-- Model and reinforce the behaviors you expect of others

Communication Planning

Communication planning can take a bit of time to get right, but the up front effort to use the ADKAR framework and to plan out your communications internally an externally will be well worth the effort.

Who Who are all the people/groups with whom you need to communicate?

What What message(s) do you need to communicate to each? Be specific.

By When When do you need to communicate? What is the deadline?

How What method of communication will you use?

Accountability Who specifically is accountable for this message and following up on it?

The point is: When a small group of people at the top make decisions and no care is taken to how the change is executed you end up with confusion and sometimes just "bad stuff" like toxic culture, decreasing trust or lousy customer service. Take the time to elevate your empathy and manage change like a pro

Rise Above Consulting has decades of leveraging change management frameworks to successfully implement new strategies, policies and tactics across organizations. Book a free consult to learn how Rise Above can help you manage your culture like a pro.

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